Alrighty, quick thoughts on the show tonight!
PC: Not much to say, it was an average show, I don't see them moving up with this show design, but I don't see them moving down
Mandarins: Cool effects, the show design is well done and I can see this taking them far. From a brass standpoint they sound very solid. I was not terribly surprised to see them over academy, since they were really firing on all cylinders.
Academy: Cute show, but didn't really do much for me. I enjoyed the opening a lot. I think they are trying to fight the shadow of 2016, and loosing. Guard needs some cleaning. When the hunters had the bunnies in the ropes, the guy behind me commented "What is this, the bondage movement?".
Blue Knights: I always love their soundscapes. The show needs some more fleshing out, but I liked the uniforms more than I thought I would. The stereo brass runs were awesome. Hide and Seek was cool, but I feel like they are killing their momentum with the pauses. I see them in the top 6 this year.
Phantom Regiment: I don't think the brass sounded that bad in person. Some serious struggles though with the flugelhorn. Show just felt flat. The opener had promise, but then it just felt like the same show phantom has done for the last 4 years. can't seem them in the top 7 this year.
Vanguard: So disclaimer, many of y'all know I am a huge vanguard homer, but holy #### this show was electric! From the beginning I was hooked, and it just kept going. The hornline sounded amazing in person. HUGE step up from the last few years. Prop usage was very impressive. I almost cried when I saw that weber/gaines drill. You can tell its weber, but that Gaines touch is there also. Opener was awesome. Ballad was awesome. Closer felt eerily similar to 2015 closer (Look at the prop formation for the final movement), but still was awesome. I'm so excited to see them grow!!
Blue Devils: Impressive for sure. But honestly, seeing them live at this point, I don't see them taking the gold. I loved the opening drill. Very very cool. The uniform change needs much more flair. I didn't even notice they changed the uniforms for a few minutes. When this show gets fleshed out and cleaned its gonna be a monster, but right now, especially after vanguard, I understood why they won, but I wasn't sold at all. I do appreciate though that the music is much more accessible this year!